Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

August 12, 2011 17:05 ET

Minister MacKay Announces Canadian Participation in Exercise PANAMAX

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 12, 2011) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, is pleased to announce the participation of the Canadian Forces in Her Majesty's Canadian Ships Athabaskan and Algonquin in Exercise PANAMAX, a multinational exercise that focuses on the defence of this important region and the Panama Canal.

"Participating in this exercise demonstrates Canada's commitment to the Americas, working with our international allies to ensure stability and security in this key trading area," said Minister MacKay. "The maintenance of essential maritime trade routes is paramount to the world's economies. Athabaskan and Algonquin's participation clearly shows Canada's neighbours to the south our mutual understanding of how significant the Panama Canal is to the world."

Approximately 500 Canadian Forces members will participate in this exercise.

HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Algonquin, each carrying approximately 240 sailors, will work with seventeen countries, including the United States, as part of this multinational exercise aimed at defending the Panama Canal from threat of terrorist attack, natural disaster or pandemic outbreak in order to maintain free and open access to the Panama Canal.

HMC Ships Athabaskan and Algonquin are Iroquois-class destroyers, based in Halifax and Esquimalt respectively. These ships are area air defence destroyers and command and control platforms. They are fitted with sophisticated anti-air weapons systems, advanced weapons and communications systems and are capable of leading national and international task groups such as those in Panama.

In addition to the naval assets, a CP-140 Aurora aircraft will deploy to Panama airport to participate in the exercise.

PANAMAX has been held every year since 2003 and Canada has participated, in varying capacities, each year.

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